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Colorful gardens enhance autumn

Our gardens welcome October with fall mums of all colors and sizes. Our garden centers overflow with beautiful mums, pumpkins in every shape and size along with corn stalks and bales of straw. With our summer flowers finished for the season, it is time to decorate our lawns, porches and doorways for the colorful month of October.

Garden chrysanthemums known as fall mums or hardy mums will give your garden the color and decoration it needs for the autumn season. The chrysanthemum blooms will last for weeks as it decorates your autumn landscape. These plants are usually considered annuals and are composted when the blooms fade. While these plants can be planted in the garden they do not seem to survive in our zone 4 or 5.

When choosing mums look for plants that are covered with buds. This allows your plant to bloom longer. As you place your mums remember they like full sun and plenty of water. Fall rains are not enough water for your mums. The canopy of tight blossoms act like an umbrella and will not allow rain to reach the soil.

Do not place the mums in a shady doorway or porch. The mums need full sun and will be a disappointment if they do not get the light they need.

Pumpkins and bales of straw obviously don’t need water or full sunshine. These are the decorations you can use in the doorway or the porch. The bales of straw make a perfect perch for pumpkins and colorful gourds. As the leaves fall they will cluster around the decorations softening the edges of the display. A sturdy chair or rocker can add interest to the display as well as making a place to sit in the sun and enjoy those October days of sunshine and warm temperatures.

As the season moves along all these decorations can be composted because all are environmentally friendly. Anything that escapes in an autumn breeze will not harm our environment. The bales of straw can be used in next season’s vegetable garden, pumpkins in the compost are nibbled by the animals of the field and forest and the mums will slowly return to the soil.

For many people a ride in the car this time of year is their favorite form of recreation. By decorating our lawns for autumn we make our home, our street and our neighborhood a beautiful destination.

Rebecca Norton Ryan is Penn State Extension Master Gardener and Member of Warren Garden Club.

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